A Shelton police officer got within 30 feet or so of the black bear that has been spotted since Thursday morning at different Shelton locations.
“He was a big boy,” said the officer, who was close to the bear as part of a monitoring effort in the vicinity of Long Hill Cross Road on Thursday early evening.
The bear would run away from people, which is considered a good sign because it means this bear is less likely to eventually have direct contact with humans. “It was scared,” the officer said.
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Click below to see a photo taken of the bear on Wesley Drive in Shelton on Thursday morning:
What to do and not do if you see a bear:
How common are bears in CT and in Shelton; click below:
Shelton police officers and state environmental conservation (EnCon) officers tracked and watched the bear’s activity for a period in the fields and open areas on lower Long Hill Cross Road, between Bridgeport Avenue and the Route 8 highway.
Bears can travel distances quickly
A few hours later, a report came in that the bear was seen near Outback Steakhouse, in the Center at Split Rock shopping complex at Bridgeport Avenue and Old Stratford Road, but police and EnCon officers couldn’t find the bear at that time.
That was the last reported sighting of the bear in Shelton, with none on Friday so far.
Black bears can travel long distances, which makes it uncertain where the bear now is. Young male bears, usually born in the prior spring and therefore slightly more than 1 years old, often move around as they go out on their own.
First seen on Wesley Drive
The first sighting of the bear in Shelton was on Wesley Drive (a road off upper Buddington Road, near Huntington Street) on Thursday morning,. That was followed by a report it was on Mill Street near Bridgeport Avenue, about an hour later.
The bear’s travels indicate it’s generally been heading east and slightly south. It would have to cross Route 8 to continue in that direction, toward Stratford, and could do that via a road that goes under or over the highway or by crossing the actual highway.
Based on reported sightings, the bear’s path so far has taken it across some well-traveled streets, including Buddington Road, Bridgeport Avenue, Long Hill Cross Road, and Old Stratford Road.
State policy on bears
Bears are not automatically caught (by being tranquilized) and transported to more rural parts of the state, but can be allowed to remain in the wild as long as they don’t endanger any people.
Here is a statement from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on its bear policy:
“The probability of a bear attacking a human is exceptionally low. Therefore, the mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal.
“The department attempts to monitor bear activity in developed areas in coordination with local public safety officials. Coordination and cooperation with officials on the scene and local police officials is a key, critical ingredient in educating the public and assuring a safe, desirable outcome in such a situation.”